Author Topic: Route to becoming a paid Tax Preparer as Side Gig/Future "Retirement Job"-H&R?  (Read 5206 times)

frugaliknowit

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Hi All,

I think it is time to explore a second income, hopefully to lead to a secondary income stream and or retirement business (13 years or sooner).

I think I have a knack for and might enjoy income tax preparation.  Long term, I want to do it on my own so I can make my own hours and keep 100% of the fee (instead of $10-$25 per hour).

I know one way is to take the H&R Block course for $200, then hope they give you some work, then build from there.  Another way is to let the IRS know you want to be a volunteer.  They then (hopefully) station you somewhere to do taxes for lower income folk somewhere (like in a library).  I am interested in knowing other routes and any experiences mustachians and their friends/family have had.  I am not adverse to investing capital into other routes if they are legit and if they produce results.

Thanks all for your help!

catccc

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Some thoughts:  You'll probably want some sort of certification to do this.  CPA is the long way and EA (enrolled agent) is the short cut.  I am a CPA and worked at Jackson Hewitt, a retail tax prep outlet, while in college.  It was 2001 or so, and I got paid $7 an hour plus a commission at the end of the season based on the returns I prepped.  You won't learn much about how taxes work because you'll be using their interview format software to input data that gets translated into tax forms.  I feel like you'd need to study the forms to understand how things work and where things end up.

des999

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I've thought about doing the same.  I actually have a pretty good relationship with the lady/cpa who does mine.  I thought about offering to help her out during the tax season this year.  She is usually backed up from 9am-9pm every day months in advance, and does walk-ins every Saturday.  I can only assume she could use an extra preparer.  We shall see  :)

AustinKat

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The IRS offers training for volunteer tax preparers: http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Link-&-Learn-Taxes . I did the basic and advanced courses a few years ago when I was planning to volunteer. (I bailed after my first session with actual people, when I realized how much of an introvert I really am. :( )

Anyway, the IRS training might be a good place to get your feet wet and see how you do.

Cpa Cat

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Ultimately, getting an EA is going to be worthwhile. It will open a lot more doors for you, and won't require going back to school or anything like that. But it's still "book learning," which needs actual experience to back it up.

It will probably allow you to find some kind of seasonal work at an actual firm, where someone with more experience reviews your work and you learn the forms. If your end goal is to be self-employed, then you want to be confident in your abilities so that you avoid liability issues from being incompetent. Sometimes I think people become EA's and think "Great! I can prepare taxes now! Clients, here I come!" You should put a couple of busy seasons between your certification and going solo, so that you've worked out the kinks in your basic knowledge.

I've heard that places like H&R Block are more about selling than doing a good job. It's probably not the best place to prepare you for running your own show.

epipenguin

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My bf did the volunteer course this tax season with United Way/VITA. He quite enjoyed it - didn't so much enjoy getting up early on Saturday morning for his shift every week but it only lasts for 15 weeks. He got to pick the location he wanted to go to, and which shift he wanted to do - you sign up for one approx. 4 hour shift a week, although at his center most of his shifts were 3 hours with a few 5 hour shifts where they were open longer on busy days. I am hoping he'll go back again next year to get some more experience, or try for a paid gig.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2015, 11:58:23 AM by epipenguin »

JoJo

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There have been other treads on this so you might want to try the search.  The VITA program also has paid positions as a site manager  (recall it was around $12 an hour and they get WAY more training than the volunteers)


SomedayStache

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Commenting mostly to follow.

But also to state that I did the VITA gig this year and quite enjoyed it.  Everyone getting their taxes done at my location was typically in good spirits and usually got money back.  I think the atmosphere might be quite different though at a place where we had to get people in and out quickly to make money and if the clients were paying for the tax preparation I think their attitudes would probably be worse.

grantmeaname

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There have been other treads on this so you might want to try the search.  The VITA program also has paid positions as a site manager  (recall it was around $12 an hour and they get WAY more training than the volunteers)
I don't think the site managers get much more training than preparers in actual taxation so much as penalties, logistics, software, reporting to funding agencies and the like. And they're definitely not all paid.

mlipps

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There have been other treads on this so you might want to try the search.  The VITA program also has paid positions as a site manager  (recall it was around $12 an hour and they get WAY more training than the volunteers)
I don't think the site managers get much more training than preparers in actual taxation so much as penalties, logistics, software, reporting to funding agencies and the like. And they're definitely not all paid.

I'm an assistant manager, not a manager. At my site, grant is right, not much more tax law training than the volunteers, just more experience. I make $12/hour and our managers make $20.